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A lesson in building a rewarding career: Assistant Principal

An award-winning physics teacher and a mentor to other young teachers, Charlotte’s story highlights how rewarding a career in education can be.

“Being a classroom teacher is an amazing job. It’s a very challenging role, but very, very rewarding.”

First name: Charlotte | Job title: Assistant Principal | Organisation: Outwood Institute of Education/Outwood Grange Academy | Qualifications: MSc, Teacher Education, University of Oxford; BSc, Physics, University of Leeds; PGCE (Hons), Sheffield Hallam University

How did you get to where you are now?
As part of my university physics degree, I got the opportunity to do a Students into Schools module, where I went back into my old school to assist young people’s learning. It was a bit of a strange experience, seeing all my old teachers and having to call them by their first names rather than "Miss" and "Sir". But I had a brilliant time and that was what first made me go: “Maybe I can look into this teaching malarkey!”

After a paid teaching internship with the Ogden Trust and then teacher training with the Outwood Institute of Education [now Teach North], I got a job at Outwood Academy Shafton and I’ve stayed at that school ever since. This is my fourth year now of teaching.

What does your job involve?
As well as day-to-day teaching in the classroom – interacting with over 150 students each day – and planning and marking, I'm involved in all sorts of exciting opportunities for students. For example, we run STEM clubs, British Science Week activities, visits to the Big Bang Fair, and many more. I even led the Duke of Edinburgh's Award one year across our Academy.

I’m also taking on teacher mentoring responsibilities to help in addressing the desperate need for physics and maths teachers across the country, and recruit and retain people who are really passionate about their subjects, and passionate about their students.

I completed my teacher training, supported by the IOP Teacher Training Scholarship, with the Outwood Institute of Education (Teach North). During my training year I secured a teaching role at Outwood Academy Shafton and have been fortunate enough to teach there ever since. This is my fourth year now of teaching.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
You can see the times when a student suddenly responds to something and they’re getting a real passion and enjoyment out of what you’re teaching them. I think that’s probably what I enjoy about teaching the most.

What is the impact of your work?
Teaching has a massive impact on students' life chances every single day. Showing students the value of education and the opportunities available to them to do whatever they want with their lives is so inspiring. Teachers do have a high workload and long working hours through the week, but being a classroom teacher is an amazing job. It’s a very challenging role, but very, very rewarding.

Often I hear from previous students who are at college or university and it is amazing to learn what they have managed to do because of the opportunities that were given to them when they were at school by all of the passionate teachers who work within our organisation.

Do you have any advice for young people thinking about a career in education?
I think teaching might have been a more legitimate career option for me much earlier if I had had the opportunity to gain experience from an early age. In our schools, we have things like reading mentors, we have STEM club, we have older volunteers that will come and run things for the younger students. Any opportunities to get into those education situations will help you decide whether teaching is something that you’re passionate about, something that you’re interested in.

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